Enter the Dojo - Online Handpan Instruction and Courses with David Kuckhermann

Earlier in the year we took a brief look at a couple of other online Handpan schools, including Masterthehandpan.com, by David Charrier. And in a similar vein with this post, we’ll be directing your attentions towards the "Handpan Dojo" - a collection of online instructional Handpan courses put together by top-notch Handpan musician, and instructor, David Kuckhermann. That offers a web-based course for beginners to the instrument-type, and a second course offering more advanced techniques (with possibly more to come).

David Kuckhermann has been a familiar face in the Handpan-world for many years now (and in the wider world of world-percussion). His album "The Path of the Metal Turtle" remains a popular favourite.  And the series of instructional DVDs put out in conjunction with fellow Handpan-mainstay, Colin Foulke, back in 2012, were a well-received first of their kind. With the Handpan Dojo walking a similar (but new and updated) path, while also making the content more conveniently (and immediately) available via online streaming.

And for a little taste of the flow of the Dojo's direction, you can watch an introductory video below...

'Now climb, young grasshopper, so your Kung-Fu won't be weak'.

Ready to enter the Dojo - in search of further information, or to begin your training?  Then roundhouse-kick your way on over to handpandojo.com: HERE.

The Booty-Tap-Mallet-Lever-Thingamajigs of Nakayama Daisuke

Here at HPM, as with the Gu Boosters, GuSkin, PanHook, and HandClap type gizmos of recent times - if you can clip it to, shove it in, wrap it around, or essentially attach your new invention to a Handpan in any way, shape, or form - we’ll probably be interested in taking a look at it.

And while most of the aforementioned Handpan accessories bring additional sonic qualities to Handpan-play, like the PanHook, the booty-tap mallet lever system (for lack of a better name) recently invented by Japanese Handpan musician, Nakayama Daisuke, is a device that addresses a more practical problem.

With the growing number of Handpan now featuring bottom notes, often called "Booty Taps", which while great for increasing the range of a Handpan, some may find them awkward to activate. Which is where Nakayama Daisuke's invention, complete with what appears to be a small yellow rubber tortoise, comes in. With its intended purpose being to make those "hard to reach areas" (at the risk of sounding like some kind of toiletries commercial), easier to play. Through the use of its lever/mallet system. And while not speaking Japanese we have very little idea of what is being said in the follwing video, a translation of the description reads as follows:

'I made a mallet for hitting the Tonefield on the back of the handpan. Recently, there are more ones on the back of the hand pan with Tonefield. But, is not it hard for you to hit the back! What? So I tried to make a mallet for hitting the back side.'

And whether these are, or will be at a later date, available commercially, we’re not sure. But if this seems like something that you might be interested in learning more about - we recommend subscribing to Nakayama Daisuke's YouTube channel: HERE.

The World's Smallest Steel Tongue Drum? - Pocket-Sized Singing-Steel

While these may not be actual Handpan, it has to be said, that sometimes, carrying a full-size Handpan around with you, can be a bit of a pain in the bum.  And should you be heading to a location where the idea of carrying your Handpan with you is unbearable, or for other reasons, impractical, or impossible, but you might still like to play a little melodic steel once you’re there - the following teeny-tiny pocket-sized steel tongue drum, just might present one (if only temporary quick-fix) solution to the problem. Or perhaps they'll find merit with you as a complimentary or standalone instrument in their own right.

WuYou 3" Steel Tongue Drums

We've been curious as to what these tiny little steel tongue drum listed for sale at ETSY (pictured above-right) sound like for a little while, but could find no video/audio samples listed on the site. And while a good rummage around the internet failed to turn up much, we did discover a couple of (very) short sound sample videos over at YouTube that demo their sound...

The World’s Smallest Steel Tongue Drum?

Back in 2012 we discovered the Micro6 steel tongue drum from Japanese maker, Cimantone (video below)...  

Which until now, to our knowledge, reigned supreme as the world’s smallest functional singing-steel UFO.  But with its width of 3.5 inches, it looks like the even smaller WuYou mini, with a width of just 3 inches, has the Micro6 beat - in terms of pocket-friendliness. While even managing to squeeze in one additional note.

And while the sounds of both of these miniature honorary-family-members might sound quite distinct from those of an actual Handpan - they are not without their own charms. And to conclude this post, you can listen to one final short video of what are seemingly now the new record holders of the title of "The World's Smallest Steel Tongue Drum", below...

Before moving on over to ETSY for more information, and/or to make a purchase, should you so wish to do so.

Videos of the Week, and then Some - with Jeremy Nattagh

We briefly mentioned Handpan-artist, Jeremy Nattagh, in our last post titled “The Hanpan Meets Johann Sebastian Bach”, highlighting the work of fellow TwinPan band-mate, Laurent Sureau.  And with this post we’d like to take a closer look at the offerings of Jeremy himself.  

At the beginning of the year we made ourselves the new-years resolution to make greater efforts to showcase some of those we consider to be the finest artists out there in Handpan-land - especially those who do not always get the recognition that they rightfully deserve.  And in that regard we have somewhat failed. Which is something that we hope to make amends for with this post - by shining a spotlight on one of those “must subscribe to” Handpan-performers - for those who appreciate and enjoy truly exceptional Handpan music…

We featured an example of one of Jeremy’s more outlandish video performances in our post on EXTREME Handpan’ing earlier in the year, which are always worth a look (and we have it on good authority that there is more of that to come in the very near future) - but when it comes to the music of Jeremy Nattagh, you may well come for the novelty, but you'll stay for the remarkable talent, and the truly beautiful compositions that Jeremy weaves from these steel UFOs that we, and presumably those reading this website, love so much. Many notable examples of which can be heard by listening to Jeremy's "Video of the Week" series...

And if you haven’t already rushed on over to subscribe to Jeremy’s YouTube channel, we’ll conclude this post with one final offering with which to tempt you to do so...

To learn more about Jeremy Nattagh you can visit him over at his official website: HERE. Or follow him over at Facebook: HERE.

The Handpan Meets Johann Sebastian Bach - with Laurent Sureau

For those unfamiliar, Johann Sebastian Bach, was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period (1600 to 1750). He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

A revival that continues with recent performances from Handpan-musician, Laurent Sureau.  Who in addition to boasting one of the most impressive Handpan set-ups we’ve yet stumbled across - has been busy bringing some of Bach's most beautiful compositions; into the steel-age. Such as the following classical arrangement for the Handpan, of Bach's, Prelude MWV 846 - the first prelude and fugue in the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier, a series of 48 preludes and fugues by the composer...

Laurent grew up in a musical family and his passion for music started early. He began learning piano at the age of 6, then expanded his range of skills by studying percussion: classic and contemporary first (timpani, vibraphone, etc.), then drums from various continents (congas, Cajon, West African balafon) and drums, chromatic balafon, and of course, the Hang/Handpan.

And in addition to a variety of other outfits, Laurent performs alongside fellow Handpan-composer, Jeremy Nattagh, as one-half of the also quite exceptional, TwinPan. And you can hear another of Laurent Sureau's Handpan renditions of a Johann Sebastian Bach classic, this time in the form of PRELUDE-SUITE for Cello N°1- G Maj" BWV 1007, below...

To hear more from Laurent Sureau, you can visit him over at his official website: HERE.  Or you can find him over at YouTube: HERE.

Handpan - and the Panopticon Connection

Chances are if you watched Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie (the first one), you’ll have some idea of what a “Panopticon” is (see picture right). First imagined by English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, a Panopticon is a kind of prison, within which the cells are constructed in a circle, built around one central surveillance platform. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all the inmates' cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are incentivized to act as though they are being watched at all times.  Effectively compelling the inmates to constantly control their own behavior.

And despite first being devised purely as a thought experiment, a number of Panopticon-style detention-centres were constructed based upon the concept, including the “Presidio Modelo”, in Cuba, a Panopticon famous for the fact that it once housed communist revolutionary, Fidel Castro.  And the name Panopticon itself, is in reference to “Panoptes” of Greek mythology, who was a giant with a hundred eyes.

And likely you've already spotted where we going with this, in terms of the similarities between the Handpan's architecture, and the Panopticons. With the Handpan's notes being positioned around the central note, or Ding, in a similar manner to the Panopticon's cells. Something presumably not lost on Saraz Handpan's Mark Garner, and E.W. Harris, who chose the name for the second track on their ReEntry album...

And additionally there is a Handpan-specific events-organising company based in London, UK - that also names itself Panopticon.

Top down view of a Panopticon.
So we have "Pan" in the name, and the visual imagery is also strong. But there are still further similarities between these two seemingly far-removed objects and entities that strengthen the connection between them. That can be found within the sonic qualities of both.

In the book, Prison and Jail Administration: Practice and Theory. The authors explain that:

'...built with concrete or masonry, furnished with steel bunks and secured with steel cell fronts, the panopticon has extremely high normal, or ambient, noise levels because of reverberation and echoes within its hard walls. The circular plan shape, which generates the drum-shaped building, is a natural sound amplifier. Given the normal activity in a prison housing unit (e.g. talking, showering, closing doors, doing janitorial work), the ambient noise level in a panopticon at midday is so amplified by its shape that normal conversation sounds like shouting...'.

Operating in the same manner the Handpan's internal echo-chamber works to amplify its own sound.

Thus cementing the connection between the Handpan and the Panopticon forever - if only in some weird symbolic esoteric kind of way...

The Handpan Gets All Sexy - With OlyasDream

Cards on the table, here at HPM - we’re not big Instagram users, and still aren’t entirely sure of its purpose.  Television has led us to believe that it’s a place to post photographs of yourself looking all sexy and stuff - and we’re just not attractive enough for that ourselves. But when an Instagram Queen starts sharing somewhat unique Handpan videos over at YouTube, you can be sure that we’re going to sit-up, and start paying attention.  

In terms of the erotic or raunchy, the Handpan hasn’t had too much exposure to date.  The much-loved Yuki Koshimoto is frequently described as being the “sexy hang drum girl” (or titles to that effect) over at YouTube.  Porn Star CherryCrush, is known to play some singing-steel. And more recently, some of the videos of Gioli, have brought a pop-esque tantalising quality to the world of Handpan. But pushing the boat a little further still into the realms of the risqué, if you enjoy your Handpan videos with the occasional Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct moment - Olya's "Dreaming Baby", is a video that just might find favour with you...

With 2,155 (and counting) Instagram followers Olya describes herself as a creator of magic: art and design. Emotional dream traveller.  And sound of the future.  And while we suspect that her performances might entice mixed reactions from within the core Handpan-community - there is no denying that here is a woman who has taken the Handpan, and is very much walking her own path with it.

And if one video of a semi-clad gyrating Olya just wasn't enough for you - Olya's offering of "Sunrise Magic" - may go some way to placating your appetites...

If you’d like to hear more from OlyasDream (or perhaps have been struggling to find the right toner), you can subscribe to her YouTube channel: HERE.  Or if you are more interested in the pictures, you can follow Olya over at Instagram: HERE.

The Handpan Meets the Water Drums - With AKI-RA Sunrise

Custom-made water drum available for sale at ETSY
Flowing onward from our last post regarding the effects the sounds of the Handpan may have upon the water molecules that in part make up your being, we visit the work of AKI-RA, and the fortuitous meeting of the Handpan, and the water-drum...

Instruments of the “membranophone” family, water drums are usually constructed from wood, clay, or gourds - though water drum made of metals such as iron, brass, and copper, are also fairly common - and the chamber of the drum is filled with water, or some other kind of liquid, to create their unique resonant sound. As can be heard and seen in the particularly interesting water drum set-up of the Japanese percussionist, Aki-Ra Sunrise...

One interesting aspect of the water drums of Aki-Ra, in the video above, uploaded five years ago, back when Hang/Handpan were much newer, and hence far more difficult to acquire - is the way in which the metallic bowled water drums have been shaped DIY-style into a Handpan-esque form, in order to create different tones.

During those dark days of high-demand and extremely limited-supply, many creative types explored numerous ways of attempting to recreate the sounds, or playing-style of the Handpan, in a more budget-friendly manner. From the Hank drums of Dennis Havlena (and other interesting homemade instruments), and the homemade electronic Handpan substitutes of Al Martino. Through to the more recent addition of the soda-pop bottle Hang-drums, of Edward Black Rose. And while we can't say with certainty, perhaps the early water drum setup of Aki-Ra; was also a product of those times.

What we can say with absolute certainty however, is that five years later, Aki-Ra is still very much playing water drum, and in fact, his kit has even evolved to include even more mini-handpan type water drums. In addition to which, we can finally witness the water drums of Aki-Ra Sunrise, paired with a honest-and-kosher Handpan - with beautiful results...

And before moving on, you can listen to one final performance from Aki-Ra on one of his self-made Handpan-style-hybrid-water-drums, or "Hadouram", below...

To catch more from Aki-Ra Sunrise, you can find him over at his official website: HERE.

The sounds of the Handpan - And the way they may make you feel at a molecular level...

Water molecules purportedly affected by emotional states
If you caught our recent post on the best UFO movies ever, you might have gathered that here at HPM we’re big fans of the otherworldly. And within that context, one of our favourite YouTube channels is SecureTeam10.  And while we’re not going to go any further down the extraterrestrial-road here (at least not for now), they did recently share a video that we think might be of interest to our readers (which we’ll share below).  Titled: “Proof your thoughts can alter physical reality”.  

We’ve touched upon the science of “Cymantics” in a post before.  Documenting the effects that the sounds of the Handpan can have upon water molecules - with quite beautiful results...

However, with this post we wanted to take a look at this phenomenon in a more general way, by exploring the work of Dr. Masuru Emoto.  And his experiments that appear to prove that human consciousness could affect the molecular structure of water and that water could take on the “resonance” of the energy directed at it - as featured in his book "The Hidden Messages in Water".   And with the average human body being made up of roughly 55-60% water, if true, Dr. Emoto's work certainly goes some way to giving scientific credence to the belief held by some that Handpan have a certain "healing" quality to them. And in lieu of excessive and needless words from ourselves, here's Tyler from SecureTeam10; to explain further...

And to conclude this post, if you'd like to learn more about the visible effects of the sounds and vibrations of the Handpan upon water (and most likely you also), you can check out our older post: What does the sound of a Handpan look like?.  Or perhaps our post on: The moods and emotions of different musical keys. And on the off-chance that you might be having a rubbish kind of day, week, month, year, or life - and be in need of a little good-vibes injection yourself. To paraphrase the words of Evie Hammond:

"...even though we do not know you, and even though we may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, we love you. With all our heart - WE LOVE YOU!"

The Thirteen Best UFO Movies Ever (Arguably)

In celebration of the Handpan's iconic flying-saucer-like shape, with this post - just for fun - we’ll be listing some of our favourite UFO-themed movies.  From classic family-favourites, to more recent additions to the genre, below, you’ll find HPM’s list of “must-see” UFO-movies.  Some you’ll likely have seen, and some you may not have…

Family Fun

Aliens were big in the 80's - and if you're looking to settle down with the family and a tub of popcorn (or alone with a reefer and a mega-gulp for that matter), you'll find no shortage of wholesome UFO-featuring movies to keep you entertained from that particular period in time. Flight of the Navigator, the story of 8-year old David's adventure with a wise-cracking alien-ship, was a firm favourite back in the day. Batteries Not Included - that tells the tale of the tenants of a Manhattan apartment block who befriend a family of miniature saucer-shaped mechanical beings, is another great movie of a similar ilk. And of course, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial - featuring he whom is arguably the most beloved alien to ever have graced the silver-screen, and his forever immortalised glowing-finger - in a movie that no life should be lived without seeing at least once.

Genre Classics

The second oldest entry to our list comes in the form of 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a movie that follows a group of individuals efforts to make contact with alien-intelligence, and that also features what is possibly the most renowned example of aliens exhibiting their own musical talents (in a way). While the oldest, and contender for personal favourite here at HPM, comes in the form of the 1953 version of War of the Worlds - which whether in book, radio, or movie format - remains arguably the best story of human/alien interaction (conflict) ever penned.


In terms of scale, and appreciation of special-effects-infused alien invasions on a planetary-level, there are certain movies that cannot go unacknowledged. Primarily, Independence Day, the 1996 movie that enthralled viewers with an all-out ET invasion of the likes that had never previously been witnessed - with city-sized alien spaceships so vast, that they could literally block out the sun. But also both Skyline, another alien-invasion movie of epic-proportions, and Prometheus, the 2012 addition to the Alien-franchise, that explores the origins of man-kinds creation, are deserving of honourable mentions.

Five UFO Movies You Might Not Have Seen

Up until this point there's a fairly good chance that you'll have already watched many, if not all, of the movies mentioned above. So to finish this list off, we'll offer up five "a little less well-known" UFO-themed movies; that you might not yet have seen...

2014's Extraterrestrial might follow a fairly well-trodden formulaic path for a part, being reminiscent of every "a group of teenagers lost in the woods" type horror ever produced. But beyond that it's a surprisingly well-made and stylish movie that takes the ET element and makes it its own, and is far more entertaining than expected - making it well worth a gander.

Shaky "found-footage" camcorder-type movies aren't everybody's cup-of-tea - but if like us here at HPM you're a fan - the following are a few movies that you might enjoy watching also, if you haven't already. The McPherson Tape (also known as Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County) was a 1989 TV movie, and while it's about as low-budget as it comes, it does a pretty good job of capturing the kind of tensions a family finding themselves in the midst of an unexpected alien-intrusion; might endure - and in it's own way is another classic of the genre. While Hangar 10 makes for another interesting UFO-laden addition to our list from the mockumentary-school of film-making - and reminds us that some fences are in place for a reason.

Circle offers a particularly unique take on the alien-invasion concept, forcing human-abductees to face-off against each other in an unusual manner in a battle for survival. While our final offering, The Signal, makes for possibly the most bizarre, and existential movie on our list - within which three MIT graduates find themselves on the flip-side of a very different curtain.

Know of any more great UFO movies? - share them in the comments below...

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